Benefits of Music on Verbal Learning and Memory: How and When Does It Work?

Laura Ferreri, Laura Verga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

A LONG-STANDING DEBATE IN COGNITIVE NEURO-
sciences concerns the effect of music on verbal learning and memory. Research in this field has largely provided conflicting results in both clinical as well as non-clinical populations. Although several studies have shown a pos- itive effect of music on the encoding and retrieval of verbal stimuli, music has also been suggested to hinder mnemonic performance by dividing attention. In an attempt to explain this conflict, we review the most relevant literature on the effects of music on verbal learning and memory. Furthermore, we specify several mechanisms through which music may modulate these cognitive functions. We suggest that the extent to which music boosts these cognitive functions relies on exper- imental factors, such as the relative complexity of musi- cal and verbal stimuli employed. These factors should be carefully considered in further studies, in order to reliably establish how and when music boosts verbal memory and learning. The answers to these questions are not only crucial for our knowledge of how music influences cognitive and brain functions, but may have important clinical implications. Considering the increasing number of approaches using music as a ther- apeutic tool, the importance of understanding exactly how music works can no longer be underestimated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-182
Number of pages16
JournalMusic Perception
Volume34
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • ALZHEIMERS-DISEASE
  • BACKGROUND MUSIC
  • BRAIN PLASTICITY
  • COGNITIVE TEST-PERFORMANCE
  • DEPENDENT MEMORY
  • DIFFERENTIAL DISTRACTION
  • LANGUAGE
  • RECALL
  • SHORT-TERM-MEMORY
  • THERAPY
  • cognitive improvement
  • language
  • memory
  • music
  • verbal learning

Cite this